Chinese officials have yet again assured residents that pets cannot carry or transfer the coronavirus to humans. Credit: Japan Times.

Health officials in China have once again attempted to assure people that there was no evidence of the spread of the novel coronavirus between humans and pets, China Daily reported.

On Monday, Jiang Rongmeng, a member of the National Health Commission expert group, said different viruses target different species and there is no evidence of the novel coronavirus infecting pets, or of them carrying the virus and spreading it to humans, the report said.

Before Jiang’s announcement, the World Health Organization, science website guokr.com and other experts had already stressed the same thing, the report said.

And yet there have been reports of people discarding their pets. Worse, in some cases people have made their neighbors discard theirs for fear of contracting the novel coronavirus, the report said.

People’s concern for health is understandable but discarding pets is a case of panic fueled by ignorance.

Research shows a high possibility the novel coronavirus first emerged in bats, and it is reasonable to conclude that those who eat wild animals like bats might have helped spread it to other people, the report said.

This is because in the process of hunting, slaughtering and cooking the animal the people might have come in contact with the infected bat’s bodily fluids, the report said.

It is therefore unjust and unreasonable to let cats and dogs pay the price for wrongs committed by a few meat lovers.

Ironically, while the pets are not a threat, those who discard them could be inviting health problems. Abandoned cats and dogs are likely to wander in search of food in the green belts of cities where they are likely to come in contact with wild animals, the report said.

Officials say such contact could help the exchange of bacteria and viruses between the animals. Later, when these abandoned pets return to residential areas again in search of food from garbage bins they could be carrying some viruses or bacteria with them, the report said.

In other words, abandoned pets could expose humans to viruses and bacteria other than the novel coronavirus, creating even greater health problems.

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  1. In fact, canine coronavirus was originally discovered in 1971 and is known to cause mild gastro-related symptoms in dogs. What’s more, in recent years other strains of the virus have been identified including canine respiratory coronavirus and enteric coronavirus.

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